Support has been given to the retention of the Knowlings Field as open space.
Following the unsuccessful application by Montessori Nursery to relocate and build new premises on the Knowlings Field, residents and campaigners have been working hard to try to keep the Field free from further risk of development.
Call for open space
The newly formed Whitchurch Residents Action Group (WRAG) said they “would like to see the Knowlings Field designated as a public open space, to protect it from development and to enable it to be managed as a natural environmental resource.”
They expected that this would mean changing the designation of the field from its present classification as Agricultural land to Accessible Natural Green Space, and also to include the field within the ‘Settlement boundary’.
They presented their views to Whitchurch Town Council to gain support for the plans.
A “sensitive site”
WRAG also added that “Protecting this field would enable the Councils to protect and improve biodiversity on this sensitive site, a buffer zone for the Test and its SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The field has been rewilding naturally for several years and supports a wide range of wildlife and ecosystems. This would contribute significantly to Whitchurch Town Council’s Climate Emergency Action Targets.”
Neighbourhood Plan review
With the review of the Neighbourhood Plan on the near horizon changes in designation may be possible through that process to give the field the protection being requested. Currently it is owned by Basingstoke and Deane and there may be pressures to build more housing in the area.
From Housing and a Solar Farm to a Forest – and a decision
At the full Town Council meeting there was much discussion including references to affordable housing, potential for solar farms and the creation of a forest before a vote was taken.
“Whitchurch Town Council supports the retention of the whole of The Knowlings Field as an undeveloped and natural open space for use by the local community.” – PASSED BY MAJORITY
Although the decision does not officially redesignate the Field which requires action by Basingstoke & Deane, it is an important step towards that aim.